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On Sid and Experimental

Hi All!

I have been a long-time Debian user/lurker and this is my first time walking in here. Debian was THE distro that made me begin to love GNU/Linux after having a love/hate relationship with Red Hat and Mandriva - starting with a taste through Knoppix, and then an introduction to Etch. Due to various issues I encountered with iwlwifi - then not yet merged into the kernel, I had taken a break from Lenny for about a year and begun to use Ubuntu as my primary system, until I decided it was folly on my part to not actively experience Debian, and since two years I maintain (at least try to) a quintuple boot with Debian Sid as one of my systems, switching between all of them on a whim.

My reason for harassing the venerable Debian developers on here is probably not new and discussed time and again given the thoroughness with which Debian does everything: the time that I was not following Debian has witnessed the creation of the Experimental branch (pray correct me if I am wrong - in the sense that it did not exist before?). I knew the software offerings in Stable were older than latest, so out of nine parts greed and one part necessity, I had installed Testing first, but then Testing was also quite old (not to mention also quite stable), so I had upgraded to Sid. And I must say (as well as marvel at/commend the developers for the same) that not once has Sid broken for me, particularly thanks to tools like apt-listbugs. The opinion before used to be that Sid was an excursion in the "latest and greatest FOSS software", and that it breaks frequently and should be used at one's own peril. Such seems to not be the case anymore, as I am sure many would concur, including Raphael Hertzog - Sid is pretty much "stable" for everyday use, at least as stable as an unbiased user might expect the "testing" branch of a distribution to be like. And now a lot of software in Sid is no more the latest that the FOSS world has to offer - to cite a few, Sid still has rhythmbox-0.12 while I have been using rhythmbox-2.90 in both Ubuntu and Arch without problems for quite some time and needless to say it is present in Experimental, and Sid still does not have gnome-shell, which has also been present in Experimental for quite some time (I concede the need to build on all architectures and not just selfishly on mine, but isn't that the purpose of Testing?). Therefore, from purely a user's perspective, I wonder about the daunting task of maintaining Testing/Sid/Experimental separately - with due respect, if Sid was itself Experimental, and Testing the stabler version of that (but < Stable) which would eventually mature into the next release, would that have been an inadequate scenario? Currently, if I wish to use software from Experimental, I would have to resort to apt-pinning, and I (personally of course) find that to be almost as dangerous as running Sid or using the actual software from Experimental itself; even as Monsieur Hertzog himself states in his blog, "apt-pinning for the brave" - I cannot help but view too many apt pins as an intentional recipe for disaster!

I am sure a lot of the discussion/explanation of this overlaps with the "Continuously Usable Testing" scenario and I apologize for the abject ignorance regarding past issues as well as the process of development, but I feel that Sid, as it stands, is pretty much a Continuously Usable Testing. So would it be unacceptable if Debian had, beyond Stable, just a "Continuously Usable Testing" and a Sid (which was itself Experimental)? Then, users wanting a mix of new software and stability will be able to use the CUT, while though Sid may break a little more than it does now (which has in my experience been never yet if one is careful), it would, aside from continuing to offer the latest and greatest from the FOSS world, be merely living up to its reputation :)

Manjul Apratim

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